Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” When they heard this they were astonished, and they departed (Matthew 22:15-22, Common English Bible).
Yesterday I began telling you about the time God kept leading me to this passage. It was before I was actually a pastor and the pastor of my home church had asked me to preach. I didn’t want to preach on this passage because I didn’t want to preach about money. Then, in a moment when a light bulb came on in my mind. I had an ah-ha experience where I learned this passage is not really about money at all.
Jesus asks those attempting to trap him for the coin used for the tax. They give it to him and in my mind’s eye I can see Jesus holding the coin with the “heads” side facing his audience. As he holds the coin he points at the head. He asks them, “Whose head, whose face, whose likeness, whose image is that on the coin?”
Of course the Pharisees give a correct answer. They say, “Caesar.”
Then, in my mind I see Jesus take the coin and flip it back to the person who gave him the loan as he says, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. But, give to God the things that are God’s.”
There is something very subtle there. It is easy to miss. Did you catch it? If you didn’t read it the everything above again once or twice before you continue so you can see if you can catch it. Remember, I probably read the passage 50 times or more before I noticed.
Jesus says the coin is Caesar’s, not because it is used for the tax, but because it has Caesar’s face, his image on it. The coin is his, give it to him. So does that mean we are to give our money to a bunch of dead presidents? Possibly, but probably not and if that is what you are thinking you missed the point.
The coin is the emperor’s because it has his image on it. But, what has God’s image on it? Genesis 1:26, “And God said, let us create humanity in our image, our likeness.?
What Jesus is saying God wants, is not your money. What God wants is YOU.
I titled that sermon, “God Doesn’t Need Our Money.” It is a truthful statement. I would insert here, however, God knows the church does.
But, beyond that, God knows that if we have truly given ourselves to God, our money and everything else we have will come with us.
This story is not about giving your tithes. This story is about you and me and whether we have really given God the one thing God wants, us.
How have your given to God the things that are God’s?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved